Newspapers like to get letters to the editor. They represent the diverse points of view in our community, and they're often informative.
Writers will take on public officials, who by the nature of their elected position, are subject to criticism that goes beyond the limits normally given to private citizens.
This week, we received three letters on Tuesday, one past deadline, criticizing Mayor George Wehrfritz and his handling of Cathlamet Fire Department business. Specifically, writers focused on a grant the department solicited from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to buy new turnout gear and other equipment.
The grant was subject to discussion at the council's April meeting. Wehrfritz then criticized the grant application, saying it contained inaccurate information, and fire department members responded with explanations of the figures and the comment that they had completed the grant application while consulting with FEMA officials.
Assistant Chief Fred Johnson said Wednesday morning that FEMA had locked the grant a few days while their staff reviewed the information. On Monday, a FEMA official called him and said the application may have had minor mistakes, but it was unlocked, and the department could proceed with using the funds.
However, word had already spread through fire department circles that the mayor had cancelled or withdrawn the grant application.
I hesitate to publish letters containing untrue charges. Thus, I have withheld one letter that focused on that issue. I sent a second letter back to its writer and asked him to consider editing it to conform with our guidelines for letters and its proscription of personal attack on individuals. A third letter is published because it follows the guidelines.